By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury jettisoned their previously cordial tone in favor of a heated and personal exchange in the final news conference before their highly-anticipated rematch on Saturday in Las Vegas.
WBC champion Wilder 42-0-1 (41 KO) and lineal heavyweight champion Fury 29-0-1 (20 KO) shoved each other when they took the stage at the MGM Grand on Wednesday before both promising knockouts.
“Wilder is very nervous,” said the English-born Fury.
“I can see his jumper going in and out from the big heart beat pounding out of his chest.
“He’s terrified. He’s nervous as hell. He doesn’t know what to expect, and he’s getting knocked out,” Fury said, adding that Wilder would be begging him for a rematch after he is defeated.
The American responded with laughter at Fury’s repeated claim that he will end the fight in the second round.
“When I knock you out, go do stand-up comedy. You’ve got a career there.
“You’ve got pillows for fists and that’s why I kept running through you.”
The first meeting between the pair in December 2018 ended in a controversial split-decision draw after 12 explosive rounds, a result that satisfied neither fighter but left both with their undefeated records intact.
The fight included a vicious right hand from Wilder in the 12th that send the towering Fury to the canvas and appeared to end the fight but miraculously Fury rose to his feet to reach the final bell.
Fury, who fought twice in Las Vegas last year, wore a jacket of the popular NHL franchise the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday and said he was a “bigger star than their homegrown heavyweight” Wilder, who hails from Alabama.
“Is there anything the Gypsy King can’t do, including slapping him in the mouth?” he said, referencing his own nickname.
“There’s nothing I can’t do.”
Wilder hit below the belt when he brought up Fury’s past struggles with depression, drug use and weight gain, which cost Fury his heavyweight titles when he was unable to defend them after his stunning upset of Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
Fury has since battled back from the brink of suicide and last year embarked on a speaking tour promoting mental health awareness.
“It’s a big show and I’m very happy we could all get together and put this on for the fans around the world,” Fury said.
“If it’s anything good as the talking we’re doing up on stage here, we’re in for a real treat.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)